Another day means another cut by the A’s brass

first_imgMESA,  Ariz. — Every time the Oakland A’s top decision-makers have met this spring, the team’s daunting start to the schedule has been part of the conversation.It isn’t just Oakland’s opening series in Japan against the Seattle Mariners on March 20-21 that has influenced roster choices. When it resumes its regular season on March 28, the club plays on 18 consecutive days in four cities. The A’s face some of baseball’s best opponents, including the Los Angeles Angels and Boston Red Sox at home …last_img

US Propane Stocks Rise

first_imgShare Facebook Twitter Google + LinkedIn Pinterest HOUSTON (DTN) — The Energy Information Administration on Wednesday reported U.S. inventories of propane/propylene increased about 2.9 million barrels (bbl) in the week ended June 7 to 71.1 million bbl, with stocks up more than 3 million bbl in Midwest PADD 2 while stocks in Gulf Coast PADD 3 declined.At 71.1 million bbl on June 7, domestic propane/propylene inventories were up 20.3 million bbl or 39.9% from the same time in 2018 and about 15% above the five-year average for the same time of year, EIA data shows.Gulf Coast PADD 3 propane/propylene inventories dropped about 700,000 bbl during the week profiled to 47.1 million bbl while Midwest PADD 2 stocks jumped 3.1 million bbl to 18 million bbl, EIA data shows.Versus the same time in 2018, Gulf Coast PADD 3 propane/propylene supplies are up 18.7 million bbl or 65.8% and Midwest PADD 2 stocks up 1.5 million bbl or 9.1%.East Coast PADD 1 propane/propylene inventories fell 100,000 bbl in the week to 3.5 million bbl, which was down 100,000 bbl or 2.8% versus the year-ago level.EIA data shows U.S. propane/propylene exports in the week ended June 7 at 1.012 million barrels per day (bpd), down from 1.075 million bpd in the week prior. Four-week average exports were at 1.153 million bpd compared with 863,000 bpd in the same period in 2018.U.S. propane/propylene imports were at 149,000 bpd during the week, up from 107,000 bpd in the week prior. Four-week average imports were at 125,000 bpd versus 106,000 bpd in the same period last year.Propane/propylene inventories in PADDs IV and V, which include the Rocky Mountain and West Coast regions, were at 2.4 million bbl in the week ended June 7, up 500,000 bbl from the week prior but flat versus the year-ago level.Agency data showed implied demand for propane/propylene at 906,000 bpd, which compared with 818,000 bpd in the week prior and 786,000 bpd in the same week last year. Four-week average implied demand was at 785,000 bpd versus 820,000 bpd in the same period last year.EIA reported refiner and blender net production of propane/propylene for the week ended June 7 at a new record-high 2.177 million bpd, an increase of 31,000 bpd from week prior and up 227,000 bpd or 11.8% above the year-ago level.(BM/CZ)© Copyright 2019 DTN/The Progressive Farmer. All rights reserved.last_img read more

Finding the Insulation Sweet Spot

first_imgCan Foam Insulation Be Too Thick? Payback Calculations for Energy-Efficiency ImprovementsPearls of Wisdom From Recent Conferences Energy Modeling Isn’t Very Accurate Sometimes, It’s Cheaper to Install PV Than More Insulation Building America Special Research Project: High R-Value Enclosures for High Performance Residential Buildings in All Climate Zones If you double the R-value of your insulation, the rate of heat loss is cut in half, Holladay continues. “The only questions are (a) whether more insulation is a good investment, and (b) whether the embodied energy of the insulation materials exceeds the energy that is likely to be saved over the lifespan of the insulation,” he says.Lewendal proposes the construction of three identical houses and studying the effects of adding more insulation. Although it’s possible this exact test has not been performed before, Holladay says, it really doesn’t matter.“Michael Blasnik (among other researchers) has assembled energy use data on hundreds of thousands of U.S. homes,” he says. “Energy researchers have developed sophisticated models that have been repeatedly validated by comparing modeled results to test home performance. In short, we know exactly what happens when we add R-20 of cellulose to an attic with R-38 cellulose. Of course, different families operate their houses differently. But we have all the data we need to do the calculations that you apparently think have never been made.” Passivhaus targets aren’t based on cost-effectivenessHolladay agrees with Lewendal that R-70 walls are overkill. Holladay notes, “You’re right; PHPP [Passive House Planning Package software] pays no attention to cost-effectiveness. All PHPP tells you is how to hit 15 kWh per square meter per year.”He also agrees that R-40 isn’t the right answer for all cold-climate builders. “If you have done the calculations for your housing type, your wall insulation type, your insulation costs, and your payback time frame, and you have come up with R-30, I have absolutely no reason to doubt you. I have consistently said, ‘You have to do the calculations.’” The work has already been doneLewendal could save himself the trouble of a new study, replies GBA senior editor Martin Holladay, because the work has already been done.“What you call a ‘theory’ is a truism enshrined in our building codes,” Holladay says. “The entire reason that the minimum insulation values in U.S. building codes are higher in Minnesota than in Florida is the well-understood calculation that you call a ‘theory.’” RELATED ARTICLES Parts of the equation we don’t knowCalculating the “sweet spot” of exactly the right amount of insulation with any precision requires two bits of information, adds Ron Keagle, the cost of energy and the cost of money over time. “It also depends on individual perception of thermal comfort and their willingness to pay for it,” he says, “although I suppose you could average that across all homeowners.”Another wild card, says James Howison, are the occupants themselves. Suppose they spend $200 a month on heating and cooling in a leaky, poorly insulated house. They stay on budget by adjusting the thermostat — a little cooler in winter, a little warmer in summer. With a better insulated house, they still spend $200 a month on energy but they can afford to be more comfortable, Howison says.“On one hand one could say that the improvements are yielding more comfort and are therefore efficient, but from an energy perspective it’s problematic,” he writes. “I suspect that this applies with existing housing, perhaps less with new housing. I think that the proposals to include energy costs in budgeting for getting mortgages would really help this, by including this expectation.”Holladay adds that there’s one more thing to ponder: “Here is a huge factor: should we include the external costs of burning fossil fuels in our fuel cost assumptions? Right now, the U.S. government is unwilling to enact carbon taxes that reflect the true economic cost of global climate change. As a result, every U.S. homeowner pays less for electricity, natural gas, and fuel oil than would be the case if the price of energy included the the true cost to the planet of burning fossil fuels.”center_img No, we still don’t know the answerDespite claims to the contrary, Lewendal isn’t convinced enough research has been conducted. He’s done the background reading suggested by Holladay and others, and is familiar with the suggestion that above-grade walls in cold climates be insulated to R-40.“What if the diminishing returns for insulation here in Bozeman is R-30 and we took your advice and installed R-40 in the next thousand homes and it turns out R-30 is where the curve bends down reducing the marginal improvement in performance?” he says. “The cost of going from R-30 to R-40 is about $3K. What is the opportunity cost for our customers if we overspent $3 million on insulation?”In fact, Lewendal says he has used two energy modeling programs and can’t conclude R-40 is best for his area. “We have studied models from all over the world and found that countries like Turkey and those in Scandinavia have done a better job of modeling the diminishing returns of insulation than we have,” he says. “Still, we are not convinced that prescriptive modeling matches performance very well. My best example is the PHIUS [Passive House Institute U.S.] model. They think that R-70 plus walls will give homeowners the best value. I am quite sure that a very low [air changes per hour] and modest insulation is more appropriate. The exact number for us here in Bozeman is what I want to determine.” R-40 may be ideal but consumers aren’t listeningThe bottom line, Lewendal adds, is that consumers don’t seem to be responding to the consensus that R-40 walls are close to ideal in a cold climate.“Most homes get about an R-21 because the government says it is good and our cities enforce that level of insulation,” he writes. “A few homes get about R-70 because they think Wolfgang [Feist of the Passive House Institute] is a smart guy and they will pay almost anything to reduce CO2 even if it means making more CO2 than the opportunity cost of that extra insulation… So, how do we get the average homeowner to ask for what your blogs have suggested, which is a PGH or pretty good house?”Lewendal thinks there are enough uncertainties to justify his new study.But to Keagle, his quest to find the insulation sweet spot can be based only in part on objective science.“The rest is intuitive and subjective,” Keagle writes. “Part of that is simply belief. You can build an example house and prove what it does. That would be convincing to the extent that it confirms part of the objectivity of the sweet spot.“But communication, information, explanation, and marketing can also be convincing without an example. Or the example can be part of the marketing as a working demonstration. I don’t see any of this as reinventing the wheel. The goal is to sell the public on the idea of higher efficiency.” Anders Lewendal, a builder in Bozeman, Montana, is wrestling with a familiar dilemma: What’s the right amount of insulation to put in a house?“Our theory,” he writes in Q&A post at GreenBuildingAdvisor, “is that too little insulation wastes energy and equally, too much insulation wastes energy. Where is the sweet spot in each climate zone?”To that end, Lewendal is proposing more performance testing.“We are interested in knowing if GBA has conducted any performance testing that makes diminishing returns conclusions,” writes Lewendal. “If not, we are hoping GBA might give us some advice that makes our experiment productive.”[Coincidentally, Lewendal is the founder of a “build American” campaign promoting the use of U.S. building materials. GBA has published two articles on his efforts: One Builder’s Buy-American Strategy and A 100-Year-Old Energy Star Home.] Our expert’s opinionGBA technical director Peter Yost added this:On one level, this sort of discussion drives me crazy. You simply can’t energy-model a single answer to the question of the “right” level of insulation or home energy efficiency. There are just too many variables, including changing wall configuration and systems with greater assembly depths; ever-increasing and unpredictable energy prices; climate change; assembly performance impact on the “right” mechanical system.And since many energy-modeling program results are either directly or inherently linked to simple payback analysis of the various energy measures, that really makes my head explode. We should not be using term-based payback analysis for long-term durable goods, like houses and their building assemblies. Please see the BuildingGreen blog I wrote on value transfer.And please also consider a recent GBA Energy Solutions blog by Alex Wilson in which he suggests that the insulation sweet spot can be a function of the PV sweet spot. I like the idea of comparing the opportunity costs for insulation and renewable energy, although to make the comparison really “apples to apples” the two approaches would need to have identical service lives (the PV system would need to last as long as the wall assemblies, or the insulation in them).In any event, I think the insulation sweet spot is a lot like the literal use of the term sweet, in relation to food: the best flavors are not just sweet, but a combination of flavors. The insulation “sweet spot” is actually a more complicated flavor involving more than just insulation.last_img read more

The Carbon Footprint of Minisplits

first_imgHow much CO2 is emitted by my state’s electric utilities?Since the EPA has promulgated its Clean Power Plan (CPP), Americans can, at least for the time being, make reasonable estimates of just how much carbon is emitted by their electricity use.But first, some basics on the carbon emissions of different fuels. The U.S. Department of Energy’s Energy Information Agency has tabulated a short list showing the pounds of CO2 per million BTU (MMBTU) of source fuel. The most common space heating fuels on that list are:    Heating oil:         161.3 lbs/MMBTU    Propane:             139.0 lbs/MMBTU    Natural gas:         117.0 lbs/MMBTU It’s often presumed that heating with high-efficiency heat pumps has a lower carbon footprint than heating with other equipment (and often it is). But how do you really know?Do the math! Heating appliance efficiency mattersTo reach a reasonable first estimate for an apples-to-apples comparison, it’s important to factor in the heating equipment’s efficiency. Better class oil-burning appliances have an AFUE (efficiency rating) of about 87%, while better-than-average appliances the burn propane or natural gas burners are in the 95%+ range. So, after adjusting for appliance efficiency, the carbon emission numbers look like this:    Heating oil:     161.3 / 0.87 = 185.4 lbs/MMBTU    Propane:         139.0 / 0.95 = 146.3 lbs/MMBTU    Natural gas:     117.0 / 0.95 = 123.2 lbs/MMBTU Dana Dorsett has lifelong interests in energy policy, building science, and home efficiency. He is currently an electrical engineer in Massachusetts. To determine the heat pump numbers for comparison purposes, start with the heat pump’s HSPF specification (an efficiency rating). An HSPF number can be converted into an efficiency percentage by dividing the HSPF by 3.412 (the number of Btu in one watt-hour of electricity). For example, a heat pump with an HSPF of 8.0 has an efficiency of 235%.If a heat pump is properly sized for the heating load, the HSPF rating will be reasonably close the actual in-use efficiency for Climate Zone 4. In Zone 3 and warmer zones, the in-use efficiency is likely to be a bit higher than the HSPF, while in Zone 5 and colder zones, the in-use efficiency is likely to be a bit lower than the HSPF. You can assume a 0.85 multiplier to determine the degradation of a heat pump’s efficiency for each climate zone colder than Zone 4. (There are exceptions to this rule of thumb, but a close examination of the topic is beyond the scope of this article.)For example, if the HSPF of a heat pump is 11.3, the “adjusted” efficiency of the heat pump when installed in Climate Zone 6 (two zones colder than Zone 4) will be something on the order of:    0.85 x 0.85 x HSPF 11.3 = 8.2The units of HSPF is BTUs per watt-hour, but electricity is metered and billed in increments of kilowatt-hours (=1000 watt-hours). So an HSPF of 8.2 means on seasonal average basis it delivers 8,200 BTU per kWh of electricity used. From there we can calculate the kWh input per MMBTU delivered:    1,000,000 / 8200 = 122 kWh/MMBTU Tracking Our Company’s Carbon FootprintStrength in NumbersReducing Our Carbon Footprint — Part OneReducing Our Carbon Footprint — Part TwoHow Deep Is Your Footprint?Life-Cycle Assessment is a Tool, Not a Silver BulletEnergy Return on InvestmentAll About Embodied Energy Q&A: Experience with carbon footprint modeling for construction? RELATED ARTICLES Heat pumps make sense in “low carb” statesRight away it’s obvious that in this state with a lower-carbon grid, the heat pump is “lower carb,” far and away, than any appliance burning one of the common fossil heating fuels. And the heat pump will be even lower carbon going forward.Clearly, in states like Wyoming with a high-carbon grid, even when the grid reaches the 2030 CPP target, a heat pump won’t beat a condensing appliance that burns natural gas. But that’s not to say it’s impossible to get there in other ways. In deregulated electricity states like Michigan, it’s possible to buy grid-supplied electricity from greener sources. A 100% renewables package purchased through brokers or a direct power-purchase agreement would provide electricity for the heat pump that is essentially zero-carbon power.Wyoming has very favorable wind resources — resources that could be developed if there is a retail market for 100% wind power — but state regulators in Wyoming promote vertically integrated utilities, and haven’t yet decoupled electricity markets. Wyoming also lacks net-metering for behind-the-meter (residential) PV, so until the regulatory framework changes, most heat pumps in Wyoming are going to have a higher carbon footprint than condensing gas, even if the state meets its CPP targets.This isn’t intended to be a precise model of what’s going on; it’s just a reasonable rough cut. There are many factors that can raise or lower a heating system’s efficiency, and often local utilities within a state have much higher or lower carbon output per MWh than the statewide averages. But as a quick estimate, it’s way better than a guess. Utilities in each state have carbon targetsMeanwhile, the CPP has defined carbon targets for every state (except Vermont, which was exempted due to a dearth of fossil fired power generation in that state). The carbon targets include the 2012 estimated carbon intensity per megawatt hour (Mwh = 1,000 kWh), as well as a projection for 2020 in a “business as usual” without the CPP, and a target for 2030 with the CPP.So, let’s compare how well a heat pump fares in say, the Climate Zone 6 portion of Michigan, a state with a grid with medium carbon intensity:    2020 Projections (without CPP):     1,588 lbs/MWh = 1.588 lbs/kWwh   1.588 lbs/kWh x 122 kWh/MMBTU = 193.7 lbs/MMBTUUnder these circumstances, the heat pump is has a slightly higher carbon footprint than an 87% efficient heating appliance that burns #2 heating oil. (The oil-burning appliance has a carbon intensity of 185.4 lbs/MMBTU of heating.) When you include the electricity used by the air handlers, pumps, and burners, it’s probably a wash. But the carbon footprint of the heat pump is considerably higher than the 123.2 lbs/MMBTU of a gas-burning appliance.But assuming that Michigan hits its 2030 target under the CPP (and remember, by 2030, a heat pump installed in 2016 would have reached more than half its anticipated lifecycle), the heat pump will be at 1,169 lbs/MWh, or 1.169 lbs/kWh.At that point the heat pump will have a carbon footprint of:    1.169lbs / kWh x 122 kWh / MMBTU = 142.6 lbs/MMBTUThat’s considerably better than an appliance burning #2 oil, and right in there with the 146.3lbs/MMBTU for condensing propane, but still well above that of natural gas.But for comparison, take a look at parts of Maine that are in Climate Zone 6:    2020 Projections (without CPP):     736 lbs/MWh = 0.736 lbs/kWh    0.736 lbs/kWh x 122 kWh/MMBTU = 89.8 lbs/MMBTUlast_img read more

Now, Darjeeling parties seek Union Territory status

first_imgTaking a cue from the Centre’s decision to reorganise Jammu and Kashmir into two Union Territories, the political parties in Darjeeling Hills on Monday demanded a similar status for the region in West Bengal. They argued that the status of Union Territory would be the best solution to the long-pending demand for a Gorkhaland state.Gorkha Janmukti Morcha (GJM) leader Bimal Gurung congratulated the Centre on its decision and hoped that it would also consider the demand of the people of Darjeeling.Roshan Giri, another GJM leader and Mr. Gurung’s close aide, said the creation of a Union Territory would be the solution for Darjeeling, Terai and Dooars.In a statement, Binay Tamang, another GJM leader close to Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee and who wields control over the Gorkhaland Territorial Administration (GTA), asked if the BJP government could reorganise Kashmir, why could it not take a decision on Darjeeling. The Trinamool Congress government is opposed to a division of West Bengal. Darjeeling MLA and Gorkha National Liberation Front leader Neeraj Zimba sought to differentiate the situation in Darjeeling and Kashmir, but demanded the status of Union Territory for Darjeeling Hills. “Darjeeling and Kashmir are two different case studies, but what the developments of the day have shown us is that if there is a political will, decisions can be taken,” he said. Because of the strategic location of Darjeeling, he said, the area should come under the control of the Centre, and the status of Union Territory would be the best solution. “Given the population of Darjeeling Hills, the Union Territory should have an Assembly as in Delhi and Puducherry,” he said.last_img read more